Saturday, December 28, 2013

Maforga Christmas Play

Christmas is quite the tradition here at Maforga! Each year a Christmas play is written and produced by someone new... and this year Jose, one of the older orphans, chose to do it. (You can see Jose holding the papers behind the red chair in the photo above. He was narrator to this year's play.)

Above you see the angels singing before the creation of the world, then there was the story of Adam and Eve's fall in the garden... and how sin entered the world.

 Afterwards, Isaiah (as seen in blue above) prophesied of the coming Messiah.

Then the story of Mary's visit from Gabriel, the journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, and Jesus' birth! When He was born (someone handed our youngest orphan, Abraham, through the back of the curtain and a huge cheer rippled through the spectators. So fun!)

Then Joseph and Mary presented Jesus in the temple. Aren't they adorable? During this dedication of Jesus, they hear the prophesies and worship of Simeon and Anna in the temple. (Don't mind the fact this is out of order. :- )

Next the shepherds come to worship and they do so to rap music and break dancing! Oh, how I love watching little boys flip through the air and do robot jerks! Too fun!

 After the shepherds worship and the angles sing (above), Jesus is visited by another group. Yep... the Star(s) of Bethlehem (below).

 As the stars entered the scene, they twirled and danced in a shining line... much like a streak.

 Following the stars were three very lavishly dressed Wise Men holding telescopes to their eyes.

 First the Wise Men go to the King in Jerusalem. Then they head to Bethlehem and offer the gifts to Jesus and this parents... who then run off to Egypt to flee the coming massacre.

Once safely away, the whole production came to dance and dance... and dance some more in celebration of the Lowly King's birth!

This year.... baby Abraham played Jesus. Surprisingly, he slept through it all. All the cheers. All the dancing. All the waving him about. It was so fun to see him so clueless... and so peaceful! 

 The next day, for Christmas, we all (meaning staff, over 100 orphans, and various friends) gathered to celebrate the day with a huge feast, futbol, and more dancing at Maforga's annual "Maforga's Got Talent" show.
 Futbol galore!
 For the talent show we had poetry reading, dancing, and more dancing! So fun!

 We also started dinner (like most African feasts) with dessert first! Ha ha! Yummy!

Some of the missionary kids growing up at the orphanage. 
Many of the orphans enjoying Christmas dinner. Wow was the roasted lamb good!

I pray all of you had a wonderful Christmas! Love from all of us at Maforga!

Sunday, December 8, 2013


During my road trip last week, I started reading Trish’s book, In Rebel Hands.

For those who don’t know, Trish and her husband Roy (my directors) were taken hostage by the RENAMO rebels some 20 years ago during the Mozambican civil war and a few years back, she wrote a book about it.

This book recalls the fears of nightly attacks, their raid and capture, and then their 3 month trek through the Gorangoso mountains as prisoners, until their eventual release.

It’s moving and insightful and I’m honestly wondering what took me so long to read it. But more than that... It has helped me to understand both Roy and Trish a bit better and has given me a clearer view of what the RENAMO are after and why they fight.

So... last Friday with these ideas still bouncing through my head as I de-bused from my ridiculously long ride back from Maputo, Roy was there to pick me up.

As we drove up the short drive towards Maforga, we chatted about nothing in particular. Maputo. The Bus. My exhaustion, etc. But eventually, the mundane topics petered out.


As I looked over at Roy driving, I could see he had something to say... but wasn’t sure how to begin.

Finally, he spoke.

-- “So we had a strange thing happen today that I think you need to be aware of.”
-- “Oh, yeah?” I said flatly. I was too tired to put any more effort into my response.

He waited a few moments then added, “We had a visitor today that nobody recognized. Long beard. Muscular. A maluco that no one paid much attention to at first...”

I nodded in the dark for him to continue but... he couldn’t see me. So he turned his body slightly to see if I got the full impact of what he was saying. I didn’t.

So he continued. “This maluco (or madman) was wearing bad clothes and looking through all the windows. He seemed particularly interested in the clinic.”

By this point he’d got my attention. So I prodded for more: “What do you mean?”

-- “Once he had carefully looked at everything, he said some troubling things to the guards which made them think he was RENAMO military in disguise. So we called the police to report it.”

-- “Oh, Okay.” I stated coolly but my mind was racing with Trish’s book. Then I asked, “So you think they might cause problems here?”

-- “It’s hard to say,” he said softly, than paused. “I just need you to be aware that if they come to attack us... you and the Bells (another American missionary family on the farm) are the most attractive hostages.” He paused a moment, then added, “I worry about those little kids.”

Instantly my mind raced back to the book. In it, I’d learned that Roy and Trish were not the only ones captured during that raid. There were seven adults and three kids, but only one American.

The American hostage gave the RENAMO greater negotiating power as it forced the US government to officially recognize them at a political power.

-- “I see,” I said a bit absentmindedly, my mind racing ahead to the news I heard in Maputo the night before. Another medical clinic in Tika (a few hours drive from here) was attacked and raided. No one was hurt, but everything that could be stolen was.

Linens. Medicines. Buckets.

By this time we had reached our destination, but neither of us got out of the car.

More questions. More confirmations.

In the end, he explained the details of the day once again and I thanked him as I opened my car door to go. 

-- “There’s one more thing...” he added. “If you hear anyone outside your window or door trying to force their way in, please just try to sneak out the back and hide in the bushes.”

This was what they had done during the war. They escaped more than one raid that way. Trish talks of it now and again, sometimes pointing out to various bushed or trees on the farm and saying, “Oh.. see there? That is where we hid from the RENAMO during the attack which killed four rebels. When we woke the next morning, a dead man was lying just there,” she said pointing to a grassy knoll.

That night, I confess I had moments of halting fear and plenty of “What ifs”. But then I prayed and God gave me peace. I also asked you all to pray and now the fear has gone completely.

If they attack, then... well... they attack. I can’t control that. If they decide to take me hostage... not sure I’ll have much say in that either. So why worry about it now?

The next day, however, I spoke to another team member about it. He reminded me that only government clinics are being attacked. “It’s unlikely that any private clinics will be bothered”, he assured me.

So there you have it.

Malucos. Rumors of raids. Wars. Etc.

I don’t now if we’ll have any troubles... all I know is that God fights for us. I feel His presence; I breathe in His peace.

Nevertheless, please be in prayer for this country and the many skirmishes that are fought in it every week. The government won’t allow most of it to be reported. Many are in the dark about it all --including me.

Please pray.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Life as I know it.

I’ve been asked more than once in the last few weeks what I do all day. Am I catching babies? Am I studying? Working? What?

The answer to that is simple; I do whatever needs to be done.

Some days it requires action with meetings, shopping, working, and such. On other days it requires less action and more prayer and a pulling aside to seek His face.

What do I mean? Well... let’s look at this week for example. It has been an unusual week in some regards, but not so unusual as you might guess.

Here goes:

Sunday: Wake early for housework and Bible study, then scoot off to church. Church is a loud, happy ruckus and we find ourselves sharing testimonies of Thanksgiving in honor of the Oh-so-American holiday a few days before. Lunch is a quick sandwich which I eat over my computer, trying to catch up on emails and back-logged everything. But the heat of the day makes much of the afternoon impossible. I find myself planting seeds on used egg trays and praying something will grow.

Monday: Wake early to talk with Jesus. So much to do. Today is a shopping day in Chimoio (a 45 min drive away) for construction supplies. I’m supposed to get the sheets of wood (if I can find them), paint, and concrete to complete some of the clinic repairs coming up next week. By mid-morning, I’ve completed the shopping but am disappointed to find out that the truck we rented to carry our supplies back to Maforga fell through. Something about a strike of bus drivers keeping all the major trucks out of circulation for fear of police retaliation, etc.

Disappointed but unfazed, I move on. The truck will pick up my supplies the next day. But I have something else in mind for this week. I have to go to Maputo to follow up on my clinic papers. So I buy a bus ticket to Maputo which leaves in the wee hours of the morning. I take the bus since it’s so much cheaper than flying, and since the highway is open again. Finally. Ticket in hand, I return home to pack and close up my house for the week. Later that night (achem at 2 am actually), I return to Chimoio to catch the bus.

Tuesday: Travel from 3:30am to 10pm on a cramped, swaying bus which has been modified to fit more travelers than the manufacturer ever intended by squeezing them in makeshift seats in the aisle. Elbows rub ribs, knees knock against seats, butt cheeks cramp continually. Every inch of it is crammed with boxes, backpacks, and people. We inch painfully toward our destination but with the periodic stops (to pee alongside the road) and the massive potholes the advance is slow. Achingly slow. Finally we arrive in Maputo. I step out of the bus into torrential rain, find a cab, and make it to the youth hostel in time to find it still awake and bustling. I fall asleep in a dorm room with backpackers and vagabonds from all over the world. Sleep fitfully.

Wednesday: Rise early to prepare for the day. I have to return to the Ministry of Education to follow up on my application for my degrees to be approved. I tried for two weeks to follow up by phone but the number they gave me was ‘offline’ or ‘out of service’ each time I called. Thus the need to go to Maputo in the first place. I catch the bus to bounce through the capital’s streets, it’s glaringly clear not many foreigners take the bus. I’m conspicuously white but happy not to pay the outrageous fees for a cab ride there.

The office staff remember me well and ask if I was able to drive down. When I told them I had to come by bus they are surprised the highway is open again... but more surprised I took the cross-country bus in the first place. When the clerk asks why I didn’t call first, I informed them the number never worked and I had no choice but to follow up in person. Then I’m quickly informed that my papers are still being processed. However, on closer review only one was sent to be done. I ask that my second degree be processed and it is submitted immediately... but it still won’t be completed for another week.

The rest of the day is spent trying to stretch out my cramped legs in a street cafe full of smoking Portuguese and the occasional street vendor. I buy a newspaper off one of them and learn that the Ministry of health is inviting all NGOs working in the health sector to a planning and cooperation meeting the next morning. Do I stay and attend? A few phone calls to my team back at Maforga and it’s unanimous; they all think I should attend. I decide to postpone my return a day and attend it. I return to the backpacker hostel I’m staying in with a can of tuna and a piece of bread for dinner. I sleep well but the guy in my dorm room is too chatty for deep rest. I fall asleep late and wake up the next morning exhausted.

Thursday: I breakfast early and freshen up quickly to make it to the 8:30 am meeting in time. But when I get there, only three men in suits are waiting with me. The meeting room is set up for at least 60 people... and in the adjoining room movement for some kind of lunch is being prepared. But where are all the people? An hour goes by and only one more person arrives. I decide more coffee is needed for this kind of rigamarole but when I return, only one more person has arrived. I leave to get my book back at the hostel, ready to wait it out. But when I return, I find none of the original crew there. In their place, two new men with stacks of papers are shuffling around the room, looking rushed. Finally, I ask someone when this is suppose to start indicating that the notice on the wall said it started at 9am. She tells me it isn’t supposed to start until 11 am and smiles. Ugh! I leave.

Frustrated. I go have an early lunch in disgust and wait another hour or so. When I return, the room is full and everyone’s introducing themselves. The meeting is okay... but not what I expected. By 1:30 pm, I’ve had enough and head home. Feels like a complete waste of time. I finished up a few emails, then rush off to get my bus ticket home.

I’m not sure where I’m going so I go early to scope it out and buy my ticket. Two hours later, I have my bus ticket in hand and am feeling quite accomplished. I return to the backpackers to pick up my bags, eat a quick dinner, and head out again. But this time the traffic isn’t as bad and I make it to the station in only a half hour. It’s 9pm and I’m ready for bed. But with the constant comings and goings on the bus, more fitful sleep on stone hard seats awaits me. At 3:30 am we take off in a rumble of engines and diesel fumes.

Friday: Basically, the reverse of Tuesday. More cramped seats. More potholes. More street vendors through the cracked bus window. Fitful and cramped sleep. But when we get to the spot in the highway that has been under attack by the RENAMO forces, there are more delays than usual. This is the stretch of road that has the periodic rebel attacks and therefore must be patrolled by the military.

As we arrive, we are told there had been some shooting around noon and we might have to wait until morning to pass through. Discouraged but with nothing left to do but wait. We sit curbside and chat. I meet a darling granny named Teresa Maria with a unique story (which I might tell another time) and we look for water together. The water we find is salty, but still wet. She drinks it. I don’t.

After 2 hours of waiting, the convoy arrives and we are allowed to cross into the heavily guarded stretch of brush, but we must wait another hour or so before the escort is ready. The soldiers usher us through the 100 km stretch, stopping now and again to walk --guns at their shoulders-- ready for combat. Because of these delays, we arrive in two hours instead of one.

Once safely passed, our bus driver starts praising the Lord over and over again marking his praise with progressively louder “Hallelujahs”. More driving. More stopping. I make it back by 9:30 pm and am thoroughly worn out. I’m welcomed back to news of a possibility that RENAMO has been suspected of scoping us out in hopes of attacking the clinic for our outdated meds and linens. (More about that later.) I go to sleep --once again-- fitfully.

Saturday (today): I wake rested, but late. I spend my morning in my pajamas since the on and off rain storms have cooled my cabin to a slight chill. The lush and low clouds of mist invade my house and I feel protected. But in the distance, I can hear the sounds of preparations. Today is Maria’s wedding. (More about that later.) Maria is one of the orphans who has grown up at Maforga. She married a man named Manual, a widower almost twice her age and with four kids at home. A beautiful bride. A happy groom. A church full of dancing, food, and deafening keyboard music with the occasional (painful) speaker feedback. Ouch! Food was fabulous. Everyone leaves by 5pm with high spirits and full bellies.

This is what life looks like for me these days. This is what life is like... as I know it. 

I share it with you so you might pray. Please pray for perseverance and a drive to move forward in all He asks --day after day. Pray also that I would not grow weary in doing good, and that I’d have more wisdom and patience in the details... and not get distracted along the way. Also pray, that I’d find a way to avoid those silly buses in the future. Ha!


Screeching Halt.

Over the last few months, I’ve really felt the urgency to write. But I just didn’t trust myself.

The words I had to share were anything but up lifting. The troubles racing through my heart and mind sounded too much like the piercing screech of metal against concrete, right before impact.

The question was not “if” but “when” it would collide.

     What would it look like when the flames hissed out?

I talk about it each time I enter a new field. I talk about the stresses and strains, the chaos and calamity, and the eventual ear piercing screech of culture shock. But each time, it hits a little different. Some times the bumper is scratched, and on others the back window is shattered.

     Cosmetic stuff, really. Nothing more.

But the way those silly brakes lock and skid me about always gives me a shock.

    Yes. A shock.

There is no better way to describe it.

So there you have it. It’s no excuse. Just an honest observation.

This time the hardest impact hit around 6 months in... (September 2013) and has lasted until today. Even now, I’m still reeling from the force of it, like tremors. And as I move about, my body aches and my soul whimpers.

“What has been so hard?”

Nothing and everything at once. That is why it’s so sneaky.

One minute I’m driving along just fine, and the next... BAM! The airbag is inflated and the front left tire is in a ditch.

Sigh. And all I can think is... “Oh, No! Culture shock has struck again!”

I’m happy to report, however, that I’ve missed writing. I’ve missed reaching out into the great chasm of words and spaces, of dots and dashes, of blogs and bloggers and grabbing hold of an eye... and hopefully a heart.

    Have you missed me?

So, I’m back. Or at least I intend to be. Only time will tell if I am truly able to see straight enough to type.

But like before, I promise... not to hold any of it back --mangled chassis and souls alike.

Photos thanks to 123RF Royalty Free stock photos @

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Months and months ago... yes, it's been impossible to blog about it before now because the internet would NEVER allow me to load the pictures... I went to Zimbabwe for my long-term visa. While I was there, I took advantage of the opportunity to shop for things that are just not found in Moz.

Bag of bugs! Yum!
The aisles and aisles of goodies in the local supermarket were startlingly cheap and I confess I went all out.

The thing is... they had things I'd never seen before. The most surprising of these options were caterpillars.

Hard.    Spiky.    Crusty.    Dried up caterpillars in a bag.

I picked it up to make sure my eyes were not playing games with my mind. Peering through the plastic, I inspected one black creepy crawly after the other until I was convinced.

The crawlers before they were cooked
A black man stocking the shelf beside me caught my eye and I turned to him for help.
-- "Is this really what I think it is?" I asked innocently. "Are these caterpillars?"
He smiled, nodded his head, then said, "Yes. They are really tasty."
-- "Tasty huh?" I said with a smile. "But how do you eat them? Do you just eat them like chips... out of the bag?"
-- "No, no, no," he laughed, taking the bag of critters from my hands, "You cook them first. They are delicious. I always have a bag full in my car for snacks."
-- "Really?" I said with excitement (I'm always looking for new, crazy foods), "Can you tell me how?"
He smiled wider, assuring me it was simple and taking me through the steps one by one.

Caterpillar Recipe: 

Step One~
Soak, then boil the caterpillars until they are soft.

Step Two~
Boil them so they get cleaned out and turn rubbery. 

Step Three~
Dice onions and tomatoes and whatever else you think will be tasty. 

Step Four~
Strain the softened caterpillars and toss out the water.

Step Five~
Sautee onions and caterpillars in a saucepan, seasoning with salt and pepper. 

Step Six~
Add the tomatoes, keeping heat low so it does not burn.

Step Seven~
Dish them up and enjoy! 

Fun note: I found them to be wetter (and chewier) than I expected from the store clerks recipe. So I asked a Zimbabwean friend what I did wrong. His reply was that it was perfect, but if I wanted snacks for the road, I'd have to fry them longer.

(Optional) Step Eight~
Fry in more oil, until crispy.

Note: So I did what I was told... but I fried them too long and got this.

Step Nine~
Enjoy with gusto! 

Side Note: As I'm sure you can see... they look exactly like they did out of the bag. So I can only assume that I overcooked them.

However, my Zimbabwean friends didn't mind at all. Nor did I. Honestly, I found them better when crispy. They are easier to chew.

So there you have it. Once again, I'm convinced that any bug is yummy if deep fried long enough!       

Moral of the story: Some people eat chicken. Some people eat steak. And some people eat... caterpillars?  

Swimming with Sharks!

Much can be said about birthdays. The more you have... the longer you live!
        --- Personally, I like them.

This year's birthday was extra special though; I got to cross off another long life dream from my bucket list.

I went swimming with Great White Sharks!

For anyone who knows me even a little, you aren't surprised by my thrill seeking decisions.
        --- Life is an adventure and is worth living well! 

So when I realized that I'd be in South Africa again on my birthday this year, (attending the wonderful and amazing Calvary Chapel African Conference near Cape Town!) I immediately started planning how and when I might swim with the fishes (aka: the Great White overgrown guppies with teeth!)

As it would turn out, the cost was much less than I expected and all was arranged pretty quickly. My missionary friends were not interested in joining me but they were willing to get me to the boat on time. This was no easy task however, as we had to be out the door by five a.m. to make it!

Fortunately the day was warm and beautiful for this time of year and the sea was calm. Since it is still late winter in South Africa, the waters were chilly --a startling 53 degrees Fahrenheit (or 11 degrees Celsius).

As I waited my turn, five to six sharks turned circles about our boat, nibbling at our fish-head bait before moving on. I was surprised to learn that although they come to investigate the bait, sharks are not scavengers by nature. They much prefer fresh meals. Who knew?!

I also learned that they are not at all interested in human blood. (It does not register as 'food' to them.) And shark attacks are usually as a result of them confusing humans for seals --especially those humans on surf boards.
      ---What a crunchy surprise they must have at first chomp!

Convincing myself to get into the water was hard, however. It was not the sharks but the cold that worried me. Even with my full body wet suit, I'd knew I'd freeze. But in the end, the desire to see the slick beasts up close won out, and I jumped in.

The visibility was fair but the viewing was best from the boat by the time my turn at the cage came around. Fortunately, I was able to see at least one of the sharks underwater before we had to close up shop and head home.

Since my camera was unable to capture the overgrown guppies when they surfaced, I purchased a video of the day from the boat photographer. Enjoy!

Video filmed by the unknown boat photographer at Shark Lady Adventures.

Not All Storm Clouds Rain...

In August, I made a purchase of a deep freezer. It's small and fits in the corner of my kitchen, allowing me the privilege of buying meat once a week --rather than having to buy it day after day.

After pricing things out, I discovered it was heaps cheaper to buy an animal and have it dressed than to buy it in the supermarket.

(I'm not ready to buy it from the outdoor market yet... the flies and blood stained wooden counters somehow throw me off.)

So I asked around and found someone who was selling pigs... and went to meet him.

Chris is a Catholic friar from Louisiana with a background in agriculture. He's been working in Mozambique for about two years and was disappointed to find out that very few Mozambicans are willing to eat pork.

However, I was not upset by this news because it meant that he had an excess of pork... and was more than willing to off load it for cheap.

How to buy a pig in Mozambique ~

Day one: Meet Chris and select the white beast for execution. Ask one of his workers to butcher it in exchange for all the offal and feet.     ---What a bargain! 

Day two: Go pick up my shaved and slaughtered pig, then notice a number of goats for sale... ask about the price of goats and a broken container. Take home my pig in nice happy sections and pile it neatly in my freezer --with the head on top staring through the zip lock bag! 

Day three: Go back for a (live) goat and the broken water container (which Chris was willing to part with for free and will be used, God willing, in an aquaponics project).

Easy. Peasy.

After buying my goat, I asked the Chris and the other Mozambican staff for name suggestions (since she was intended as a pet rather than dinner) but no one was willing to name her. But as I was about to leave another friar showed up, Andres from Spain, and he suggested I call her "Storm Cloud" since her white and grey coat resembled the stormy evening quick approaching.

I agreed that would be a good name for her... and quickly dubbed her Nebulada (or Storm Cloud in Portuguese).

We piled her on the trailer, tying her to the inside of the broken container and off we went. But instead of raining... this Storm Cloud bleated.
         ---She bleated all the way home!

Clearly... not all Storm Clouds rain.

Bonus: I'm happy to announce Nebulada is pregnant! I watch her belly expand with interest wondering if she'll be my first Mozambican delivery!
He he he... We'll just have to wait and see. Won't we?

Labor of Love: September 2013

Monday, July 22, 2013

School Days...

I’ve been in language school for a month now... and loving it. There is just something deeply rewarding about opening my mouth, jabbering a bit, and having people actually understand.

In fact, my Portuguese is coming rather quickly.

This is due in part to the other languages I speak (French and Spanish), but I also think it has a lot to do with the fact my classes are catered to my particular needs. Meaning... I can go as quickly as I want.

There have been a few delays however.

For instance, at first my language director and various teachers were confused at my insistence on homework. (They don’t seem to give homework here?!)

What is more... when I told them they could not teach me out of a textbook, they looked absolutely lost.

“How can we teach you if we don’t follow a book?” they complained.
“I don’t like these books,” I explained, “They go too slow.”
“Too slow?”
“Yes. If we follow this book, I won’t be speaking for ages. I don’t have ages. We have to go quickly.
“Hum... okay,” they finally agreed. “Let’s try....”

Well. I can honestly say that they made lots of adjustments for me and have tried to keep up with me. And now, they are convinced my way of learning is far better.

They are absolutely amazed that I’m as conversant as I am after only a month. And you know what... so am I!

What a blessing to have this time to focus on language! What a blessing to be able to converse with people in the streets and learn about this fabulous culture through friendships. I feel absolutely humbled and blessed!

I only hope and pray that learning Chitewe will be so simple.

I guess we’ll see. Won’t we?

Please pray that I’m able to finish strong. I have another month of language instruction before I complete my Portuguese lessons. Then I’ll have a bit of a break as I receive a missions team from my home church and then go to a missions conference in S. Africa.


New Car.

About the time I had given up all hope of finding a car in my price range and on the very day I was determined to purchase a shiny red motorcycle, God moved.

And I got a text.

God seems to like taking me to the very end of my patience and then surprising me with something great. But in this case, I’m convinced He moved, in part, so I would not be dodging goats and semi-trucks on a 50cc bike.

Even with the helmet I bought in S. Africa... it would have been sketchy.

But I digress.

The text was a quick message with a number saying there was a Brazilian selling a Toyota Surf (sold in the States as a 4runner) at a price that seemed more than fair.

When I called him about it --even though my portuguese was limited-- we arranged to meet and discussed the finer details of the car.

So that afternoon instead of buying a bike, I found myself test driving a dark grey Surf.

Since there were a few things we could still not discuss (as my lessons had not included car parts vocabulary), we drove to a mutual friend for translation help.

And in no time, I learned the words for brake pads, shocks, and springs.

As we spoke, I prayed asking God to direct me as the last thing I needed was a lemon. And in response, He flooded me with peace.

Not wanting to be hasty, I asked if he’d mind if my director had a look the next day. He agreed and by 9 the next morning we were back again, looking under the hood and kicking tires.

The car is an older model but one that has low milage. It’s not pretty to look at but... it works.

Roy heartily approved of the purchase and we made arrangements to buy it then and there.

Two days later the money was in his account and I got the keys!

It has its quirks --as any older car might-- but it has been treating me well. I pray it will continue to be a blessing to this ministry for years to come.

Thank you all who prayed and gave generously to make this vehicle a reality! I am deeply grateful.... and blessed.

A Blue Ribbon?

On the way to the garbage pit the other day, I stumbled across a snake in the grass.

I was almost on top of him before I noticed the opalescent blue of his skin and stopped to process.

There was a long delay in my brain as I flipped through the rolodex of “blue things”... and “long, skinny things”.... and “things lying in grass”. But even after a good 20 seconds, it still hadn’t come to a definite conclusion.

It had never seen anything like it... and so naturally my brain made a new rolodex card and informed me that the best guess was “snake”.


At this news, it mounted the appropriate alarm, shooting gobs of adrenaline through my veins, and causing my body to jerk back with an involuntary jolt.

High on adrenaline, I was then alert enough to ‘play possum’. So I froze in my gum boots and waited.

Absolutely nothing raced through my mind.


All I could do was stare at this thin, blue, ribbon-esc thing in the grass and hope it wouldn’t bite me.

I was transfixed.

An embarrassing amount of time went by before I realized it was dead.

Its head was intact... and its body was whole, but its tail was unnaturally short. Something had chewed it down to a crumbled nob, then just left it there.

Eventually, I leaned in to inspect it closer and saw slight indentations on its body, as if something had knocked it about... or squeezed it about its center.

Had you been there you would have laughed at the loud sigh of relief I made.

Then somehow my feet worked again and I continued down the path to the garbage dump.

However on the way back from the dump, I decided to pick it up and take it home.

In my brain, Logic argued with Reason insisting that ‘since it was dead, I should just reach down and pick it up with my hand’.

But Reason would have none of that and started screaming, “No! Whatever you never touch snakes. NEVER. Especially ones you don’t know.”

And again... I stood there hesitating over the lumpy, half-chewed beast.

Eventually, Reason won the argument and I found a long stick. Using it, I picked up my new blue ribbon by its middle, and carried it home with me.

Half way home, Lumpy, the white pregnant cat, came to greet me. And I laid the blue ribbon in front of her thinking she might enjoy a snack.

She is always scrounging for new treats and often comes to beg.

However when she approached my “gift”, she too did the same involuntary jolt, jumping back a good three inches.


Apparently, even pregnant cats have their limits and this was it! She would not eat it. Instead, she sat several feet away and watched it out of the corner of her eye.

Eventually she left it undisturbed on my porch for one of the orphans to find.

He he he...

Friday, July 12, 2013

Preaching in Pinayanga.

After I first arrived in Mozambique, I was having dinner at a missionary-friend’s house and the topic of Simply the Story came up. I was naturally enthusiastic having just come from another training (before I left the States) and I was discussing how it’s used for oral learners.

My friends (and missionaries from Australia), Roger and Amanda, were curious but hesitant to hear about another teaching method. Didn’t Africa have enough of them already?

I insisted it had its place and offered to show them how it worked sometime. Roger, who teaches pastors in the villages, listened but made no indication that he’d be interested.

Nevertheless, part of his pastor training curriculum focuses on various types of teaching methods. So in an effort to teach the pastors a more oral way, he invited me out to teach. Attendance was not mandatory since it was a ‘special feature’ of sorts, but I was thrilled at the opportunity all the same.

When I prayed about which story to share, God led me to the story of Jesus calming the storm and the waves found in Mark 4:35-41.

I prepared by testing it out on a few missionaries at Maforga a few days before, and I prayed.

A lot.

The village in which Roger teaches is called Pinayanga. You might remember that Pinayanga is also the village I visited last year when I discussed the possibility of teaching their girls nurse-midwifery. (You can read that story here and here.)

When the Pinayanga villagers learned that I was coming, they remembered me and were eager to have me come. I suspect most were eager because of medical questions, but, at least for now, they were going to get a STS story instead.

In preparation for the teaching, Roger arranged two translators (one to speak for me, and one to speak to me). I tried to explain to them what it would entail but some of it was lost in translation.

Early Monday morning as we drove to the village, Roger tried to lower my expectations.

-- “I don’t want you to get your hopes up,” he warned. “This group doesn’t participate much.
-- “Oh..?” I said softly then waited, seeing he had more to say.
-- “Yes. I cannot get them to answer any of my questions. They only like to listen and they won’t ask questions. It’s the way they learn in school here,” he continued.
-- “Okay.” I answered slowly, adding optimistically. “But perhaps with this style, it will be different...”
He glanced at me sideways as if to say he knew better. But didn’t say any more.

"Ultimately," I thought to myself. "God would speak to them through this passage or He wouldn’t. How much they answered didn’t matter." So I continued.

-- “If they don’t answer... then the teaching will be very short,” I added matter-of-factly. “Anyway... it’s more the chance to practice and learn, right?”

He nodded in agreement, and we continued to drive in silence.

I, however, continued to pray. I’d seen this teaching method bring crowds alive with discussion and was eager to see how these villagers would respond.

But more than anything, I anticipated good things.

For God is good.

We didn’t have to announce our arrival. The minute our shiny black SUV drove through the main square, people started making their way to the church property. Within a few minutes we had about a dozen women and children, and a spattering of men.

Apparently, most of the pastors had in fact decided to take this day off.

When we walked into the church there was a young girl waiting for us. Sitting slightly slumped on the church bench this girl moaned to herself in pain. Her mother stood behind her propping her up.

It was clear she was burning up with fever.


She’d been this way for two days.

I asked a few quick questions about her status, then we laid hands on her and prayed. Her mother thanked us then placed her on a blanket in the back of the church.

I couldn’t understand why she was not getting any treatment. So I asked.
-- “Isn’t there a health post here?” I asked her mother.
-- “Yes, but the guy who runs it left for the weekend (which was 2 days before). He won’t arrive until this afternoon.”
-- “I see.”
-- “Can’t you buy the medicine in town?” I asked.
They nodded a clear yes, but then didn’t explain why they hadn’t.

Was it from lack of money? I didn’t think so. A few paracetamol are not expensive.

Then why?

I never got my answer.

The young girl moaned and slept while the rest of the learners arrived. And turning my attention for the girl, I happily joined the women all the while testing my new language skills and taking pictures.

They were thrilled to see their faces in the display screen on my camera, but many squinted in blurry disinterest when it came their turn. I couldn’t help but wonder how much sight rested in those clouded windows.

As more women arrived, I was informed they ‘needed’ pictures as well and I happily snapped off a few more shots.

The colors and layers were fascinating.


Not long after, Roger called us in and the story began. My translators struggled at first but quickly picked up on what was expected of them.

The crowd had grown slightly and was then roughly two dozen strong. More men had snuck in towards the back. Plus, a number of breastfeeding mothers had gathered as well, rocking and swaying their babes as they listened.

Telling the story was easy enough. My translator had memorized the story in preparation. But Roger was right, the minute I went to ask them a question... they turned their faces to the floor so I wouldn’t call on them.

However, with time and a little encouragement, the answers started coming. First tentatively, then in full force.

Roger watched in surprise as one after the other stood to answer and throw out his or her ideas. Soon, it became a lively conversation.

There were some cultural snags nonetheless.

For instance, I could not get them to think of how anyone could have done anything different in the situation. (For those familiar with STS, this was the ‘choices’ question.)

Also, when I suggested that anyone could have done something ‘not quite right’, they argued with me saying, “No. They could not have done that. That is not possible.” The only way we found around this was by discussing ‘failure’ to do what was right. Only then did they understand and concede the possibility.

Later, Roger explained that many in church believe that one must never speak of their own failures in public. Instead, one must only speak positively.

I suspect this has something to do with the widely held belief that evil spirits are always listening, and that some things should never be spoken out loud. But that is just a suspicion.

Alas... I have much to learn!

I won’t go on and on. But know that the day was a huge success. At the end when I applied the lessons we had discussed, immediately the group came up with examples of those lessons.

One by one, they stood to testify of how and when they had clearly obeyed God and yet had still had massive spiritual attacks, and how God had gotten them through it by His power and love.

It was amazing!

So. Much. Fun.

(Happy sigh.)

They invited me to come back and teach on a Sunday morning in a few week’s time. This has to be arranged of course, but I’m excited at the possibility. Please pray with me as to when and how this might happen.

Thank you!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Life in Pictures: June & July

This beautiful chameleon was brought to me by Danny, my neighbor's son. He remembered from my last visit that I like them. But learning from past experiences, I decided not to bring him into my home (there are fortunately not enough bugs for him to enjoy inside). Instead, I placed him on the tree out front. He stayed four days, then meandered off. 

This funeral procession left the local hospital. Driving slowly behind, we could hear them singing worship songs. Remarkably, the deceased was in a real hearse.

It is tomato season right now... but despite the massive amounts being sold on each side, no one has discounted them. They are, in fact, MORE expensive than ever. I wonder if Mozambicans street venders fully grasp the concept of supply and demand?

Yummy tomatoes!

Not long ago, Nana (the lovely septuagenarian in orange) had her children visiting. It was the first time all four of them have been together in a long time. As a result, we called them forward at church and prayed over them all.